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Organic Towels – Go Green in the Bathroom
Conventionally produced cotton towels use cotton fibres that, in most cases, have been bleached. This bleaching process can leave low amounts of dioxin; dioxin is highly carcinogenic. In addition, bleach aggravates asthma and other lung conditions. Young mothers in particular are looking for organic towels to use with their babies.
Cotton production is responsible for 18% of the world’s pesticide use.
Even organic cotton requires a lot of water to grow, more so than conventional crops.
Go Green Living Tips
Use Your Old Towels
Some people throw out towels the second they start looking a bit worn. If you don’t want to use older towels, cut them up and use them as rags for household cleaning, or just use them as long as possible. There are towels at my parent’s house that have been there since I was eight – and they still manage to dry me off.
Avoid using chlorine bleach on towels, or detergents containing bleach. Bleach breaks down fibres and may promote breathing problems in asthma sufferers. When you do buy new towels, launder them with some white vinegar before you use them to remove plant oils that may be making them less absorbent than they should be. This may take 6 or 7 washes with organic cotton towels. Avoid using fabric softeners, which decrease absorbency. See our section on green laundry detergents for more tips on going green with your laundry – and keeping your towels eco-friendly.
Buy Used Towels
With a good wash, towels purchased from your local second-hand store will work just as well for you. You may actually find some very high end towels this way, for a fraction of the price.
Super Green Me Tips
You have a need to buy new towels and you want to go green. Good for you. Here is what you have to choose from.
Organic Cotton Towels
Like any other organic product, you need to watch the label on this one. Some organic cotton towels are made from cotton that is grown organically, but when it comes time for the dyeing process, bleach and chemical dyes are used which mitigate the whole idea of an organic cotton towel. Look for natural dyes, or better yet the Skal “EKO Sustainable Textile” certification, which is a sure sign that both the entire manufacture of the towel is chemical free. If you can’t find it, look for products that specifically state “unbleached” in their advertising.
While you may think that these towels are scratchy, they are apparently much more luxurious feeling than a standard cotton towel. Bamboo grows naturally with no pesticides or chemicals, and is a renewable resource. As an added bonus, it is antimicrobial.
Most bamboo products use strong chemical solvents, and it is hard to find a company that certifies that they do not use these in their bamboo products. Look for Oeko-Tex certification, which ensures that fabrics made from any material are made so with a low level use of chemicals.
Wood Pulp towels are the highest end organic towels one can buy. They have the look and feel of silk, and a price tag to match. Again, look for the Oeko-Tex certification to ensure that chemical solvents were not used in the manufacturing process.
Effectiveness / Result
18% of the world’s pesticides are sprayed on cotton. Low levels of the pesticide remain in the cotton, even after treatment.
Nutrient runoff from cotton farms helps to add to a 5000 square mile “dead zone” which manifests yearly in the Gulf of Mexico
- 2007 Organic Cotton Market Report
- The O’Mama Report
- Deirdre Dolan